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Mississippi Abortion Clinic Seeks Block on Hospital Law

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Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Mississippi’s only abortion clinic told a federal court that it can’t comply with a state law requiring its doctors to have hospital admitting privileges because local facilities won’t grant its requests.

Making a renewed bid for an order blocking the law, the clinic said its physicians had been summarily rejected from having a relationship with any hospitals in the area. The law, initially set to take effect July 1, requires physicians associated with an abortion facility also to be certified or eligible in obstetrics and gynecology.

“All of the applications submitted by the clinic’s two doctors have been denied without even reaching the merits of the doctors’ qualifications, and all other efforts have proved fruitless,” the clinic told U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III in a filing today.

Jackson Women’s Health Organization filed suit on June 27, arguing the regulations would violate a woman’s constitutionally protected right to be able to obtain an abortion. The state would be the first in the U.S. without a dedicated abortion clinic if the facility is forced to close.

Preliminary Injunction

Jordan issued a preliminary injunction on July 13 allowing the law to take effect while declaring that doctors at the clinic couldn’t be subjected to civil or criminal penalties while seeking the required hospital privileges.

Jan Schaefer, a spokeswoman for Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, said the office declined to comment on today’s filing.

“We have been told about there request,” Liz Sharlot, a spokeswoman for the state’s health department, said by phone. “We will comply with whatever the judge’s orders are.”

The state is scheduled to resume enforcement of the law on Jan. 11. The clinic’s inability to retain its license by complying with the law is “a foregone conclusion,” according to today’s filing.

The case is Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Currier, 12-00436, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson).

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net; Esme E. Deprez in New York at edeprez@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net; Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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